For many, self-care is a luxury. This is because, as many writers and studies show, there is something self-indulging about taking care of ourselves. It is almost as if we are selfish or hedonistic.
Well, in my experience with clients and practicing a lot of self-care myself, I think self-care is a human necessity. The WHO defines self-care as “ the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability …”
Thanks to this definition, self-care loses its connotation of being a hedonistic act. However, self-care has, in fact, many different nuances. I have identified mostly 3 of them, and I’d like to share them with you.
THE PREVENTIVE SELF-CARE
Taking care of ourselves is sometimes done when we realize we are terribly on edge. Super stressed out and feeling not like ourselves, we decide to get a massage, or some rest, or that walk we have been postponing. If done systematically and as a habit instead, these acts of self-care can be used as preventive tools against stress.
Some examples of prevention:
– Whenever you know that a major life event is coming, or that you will go through a very stressed period, you can do an act of self-care that supports you before you hit that limit. You might do a little bit more sports, or get a massage or set aside time to do your favorite activity;
– Self-care can be simple, and that is the thing that many ignore. It does not have to be a big deal. If you know that you experience certain bodily symptoms during a certain season, or that you are going to be more physically stressed, why not taking that blood test you have been
postponing since 3 years? Or that eye-check you think you don’t need? Self-care is a lot about self-respect and health, and knowing when your “energy tank” is full.
THE ROUTINE AND “MAINTENANCE” SELF-CARE
Taking care of ourselves is good for our mental health. It promotes self-esteem and general well-being, not to mention that great sense of control that comes from taking charge of our own life. As I mentioned before, if applied systematically, self-care can become a routine for good health.
Here’s an example:
-Waking up and have a routine of stretching, breakfast and then get into work
– Every afternoon, right after lunch, reading for 15 minutes
– Listening to your favorite podcast every day after work on the way home
– Doing sports 3-4 times a week at the same time or going for a walk every day at the same time
This type of routine creates a ritual for us. As we are creatures of habits, this makes it also easy for us to be more flexible and readopt when something is making our routine shaking. Such as an unplanned or simply out of our control event, or a bad day.
THE “CELEBRATION” SELF-CARE
Some of us don’t celebrate our successes enough. Probably for the same reason why we don’t do self-care enough: too self-indulging. And again: stopping and thinking of the great things we have done is healthy, and it makes us more self-aware and resilient when tough times come.
This is why, I always do some act of self-care when I’m celebrating something, as I mentioned in one of my articles about the power of celebration for mental health. When it comes to celebration self-care,
this is what I do:
– I watch my favorite movie or serie while I eat pizza.
– I take a long bath
– I go to do my nails or go to the hairdresser’s
– I call my best friend and do not look at the time while we talk and enjoy each other’s company
There might be more aspects of self-care, but having identified these three has helped me navigate many personal and professional challenges, and it has also helped my clients too.
Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Think of it as your own personal mental spa.